Dallas-Fort Worth Named Market to Watch in 2015 by Realtor.com

Graphic: Realtor.com

Graphic: Realtor.com

Riding on the tail of Leah Shafer’s post yesterday on the past year in Texas real estate, today Realtor.com released its predictions detailing predictions for 2015. In their top 10 list of real estate markets to watch for next year Dallas-Fort Worth is expected to make big gains.

So, why is Dallas-Fort Worth slated to have a breakout year in 2015, with sales volume forecasted to increase by 7 percent? According to Realtor.com, it’s because the first-time homebuyer is back in a big way.

“The growth expected in 2015 is widespread, but as we put together our forecast, ten local markets stood out as especially primed and ready for significant acceleration across housing metrics in 2015,” said Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com’s chief economist. “The markets on this list range from big cities with older housing stock, big and mid-size cities with substantial levels of new construction, and up and coming markets appealing to young professionals for their job growth and high affordability.”

Realtor.com Housing Indicators

Realtor.com’s 2015 Housing Forecast, which was released today, says that after years of putting off buying a home, first-time homebuyers will be more optimistic thanks to job growth and better credit opportunities. The economy is expected to add around 2.5 million jobs next year, and a lot of that growth will skew toward millennials.

“The residual financial effects of recession-driven job losses and subsequent unemployment have impeded millennials’ entry into the home-owning market. In 2015, increases in employment opportunities will empower younger buyers to return to the market and fuel the continued housing recovery,” said Smoke. “If access to credit improves, we could see substantially larger numbers of young buyers in the market. However, given a high dependency on financial qualifications, this activity will be skewed to geographic areas with higher affordability such as the Midwest and South.”

That leaves North Texas as a housing market that is the nexus of those two categories, with job growth and high affordability in both Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as the Mid-cities area and northward. That’s why sales volume is expected to increase so much, and why housing price growth has slowed.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a good article about forecasting the market for next year without a good list, so here’s Realtor.com’s Top 5 Housing Predictions for 2015:

1) Millennials will drive household formations: As we millennials grow up and get out of the roommate game, we’re going to take advantage of low mortgage rates and affordable housing markets. “Households headed by millennials will see significant growth as a reflection of economic gains,” the report stated. “Millennials will also drive two-thirds of household formations over the next five years.”

2) Existing home sales will increase +8 percent: Buyers, motivated by the expectation of rising rates and home prices, will choose 2015 as the year to buy, but instead of focusing on new construction like they did in 2012, homebuyers will look to existing homes. Baby boomers will drive many home sales as they downsize, and millennials will make up 65 percent of first-time sales in 2015.

3) Home prices will increase between 4 and 5 percent: It’s your regular story of low inventory and high demand lead by job growth. This will be a problem for the markets where you’ll pay $500K and up for a closet with a glorified half bath like San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. Of course, this will also make more affordable markets like Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta more attractive.

4) Mortgage rates will end the year at 5 percent: Rates are forecasted to increase toward the middle of next year, so look for a robust spring buying season. That’s when I’d plan to list a home, for sure. There will be an uptick in more creative financing as demand increases ahead of forecasted rate hikes.

5) Home affordability will drop 5 to 10 percent: With higher prices, higher demand, rising rates, and yet still slow-to-catch-up salaries, expect fewer people in all to be able to afford a home. Incomes are expected to increase next year, but it’s yet to be seen if that will prove a measurable impact in overall affordability.